Everyone Wants A Cookie

December 1, 2011

Some time ago a friend, who is now well on the way to owning his own island (or perhaps a gellato shop in Costa Rica), summed up his previous life as a slave to the corporate world with one single word.

“Demeaning.”

I suppose that, with so many people not having a gig since the grown-ups crashed the economy in a quest for each and every last dollar, it could be considered poor form to admit that I agreed with his assessment.

(of course, it is disconcerting to know that, if you do want to have the little niceties in life – food, rent money, basic cable – you likely will answer to blathering archetypes)

Maybe it’s due to reading so much in the news on the Occupy protests, but it’s become an increasing challenge to wanly receive marching orders from people who all but hand out gold stars for performance.

(seriously…stickers for our desks have been proffered as a reward in the past and it’s a short, slippery slide from stickers to stars)

As I do work in the corporate world, the Occupy folks have been viewed with great disdain by those who are, by little more than proximity, my peers.

As I listen to them yammer on about the subject, I keep thinking of something I read years ago about a teacher who wanted to illustrate to her students the division of the world’s wealth amongst its inhabitants.

Children were divided into groups representing the continents relative to that continent’s portion of global population.

The children were then given cookies representing the share of global wealth of their respective continent.

The result was that four children representing Africa had one cookie while two representing North America had twenty-eight.

We could debate and argue whether the wealthy of the world or the US are entitled to such riches and likely do little more than go ’round in circles.

But it is a universal truth that people do want cookies and when, rightly or wrongly, a few people have more cookies than they could consume in several lifetimes while others get only cookie crumbs, there’s going to be a problem.

So, as we enter the season of peace on Earth and goodwill toward men and such, here are four songs addressing the one thing – other than cookies – that most everyone wants…

Cyndi Lauper – Money Changes Everything
from She’s So Unusual (1983)

I first heard Cyndi Lauper on alternative rock outlet 97X in the autumn of ’83 when the station played the quirky songstress’ Girls Just Want To Have Fun incessantly. Months later, it started popping up on the mainstream pop stations.

A year later, She’s So Unusual had sold a billion copies or so, Lauper was an MTV-driven phenomenon, and her cover of The Brains’ Money Changes Everything was the fifth and final hit from the album.

Randy Newman – It’s Money That Matters
from Land Of Dreams (1988)

Randy Newman is on the lengthy list of artists whose catalog I’ve long intended to check out more closely.

(the list simply gets no shorter)

But I dig the stuff I do know by Mr. Newman and I was paying attention when I heard the wry It’s Money That Matters as the song features guitarist Mark Knopfler and, at the time, I was going through my celebrated Mark Knopfler period.

Rush – The Big Money
from Power Windows (1985)

Canada, if I haven’t said so before, thanks for Rush.

(seriously, I find it comforting to know that Alex, Geddy, and The Professor are out there)

Pet Shop Boys- Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)
from Please (1986)

Like Cyndi Lauper, I might have also first heard Pet Shop Boys on 97X. I do know that my buddy Streuss thought West End Girls was Al Stewart.

(Neil Tennant’s vocal does have a similar nasally quality)

West End Girls was a massive hit and it’s a nifty little song, but I prefered the follow-up and its cynical hook, “You’ve got the brawn, I’ve got the brains , let’s make lots of money.”

(its more amusing in a song than in the real world)

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The Humans Are Making My Head Hurt

July 16, 2008

What is up with this species? It’s growing increasingly hard to understand the antics of the only members of the food chain that wear hats. There’s no shortage of black humor, though. Saturday Night Live has to hire God as a writer.

There’s a commercial which I’ve seen numerous times, hawking some commemorative twenty dollar coin certificate tied to September 11. Crass, but the concept merely made me shrug. What did make me go “hmmm” was the voiceover mentioning this strange currency being legal tender only in Liberia.

“Did he just say it was Liberian currency?”

Paloma expressed uncertainty with a shrug of her own.

I’d recently been reading a book chronicling Liberia’s never-ending civil war and the children often conscripted into fighting the conflict. It struck me as odd that this currency commemorating an event representing the darker aspects of human nature could be used to purchase cheeseburgers in a country so rife with their own atrocities.

I don’t know if Alanis Morrisette would call it ironic, but it certainly seems askew.

How long would it take – if you quit your job – to listen to every song about money?

Warren Zevon – Lawyers, Guns, And Money
I think I’ve mentioned the late, great Warren Zevon as often as Christopher Cross (both, several times I know, which is bizarre and slightly troubling). Personal issues aside, this song is one of his classics.

Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)
There’s a part of me that thinks I probably should reacquaint myself with Pet Shop Boys as I’ve usually liked what I heard over the years. I simply haven’t paid attention to them over the past fifteen years. My friend Chris thought it was Al Stewart when we first heard West End Girls and Neil Tennant certainly has a similar nasally quality in his vocals.

Primitive Radio Gods – Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand
The preposterously titled left-field smash from a former air traffic controller (as I recall), the lyrics are pretty inscrutable, but this melancholic song hooked me the first time I heard it. As for the rest of the album from which it came…I remember hating it far less than it seemed as though the rest of the world did.

The Beatles – You Never Give Me Your Money
Is there a sadder song in The Beatles’ catalog? (Paloma makes me skip it when it comes on the radio or iPod)

And, are there two, more necessary pilgrimages a music fan should make in their lifetime than to Abbey Road and Matthews Street?